TITLE: Interlude in the Dark
AUTHOR: Jos Mous
DISCLAIMER: Not owning any characters. Not making a profit.
UNIVERSE: X-Men Evolution
PAIRING: Kitty/Rogue, sort of. Not yet. Getting there.
In the beginning there was darkness. And lots of it. Rogue looked at it for a while, then turned around to see even more darkness. She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t even know how she got here. She had the feeling that she could remember it all, though, if she tried hard enough. Unfortunately, the rather annoying beeping sound in the background distracted her.
“Where the hell am I?” Rogue asked the darkness.
“Your mind or your body?”
Rogue whirled around to see a man standing calmly in the dark. He was still, his back was rigid and he was dressed in an impeccable black suit.
“Who are you?” Rogue asked.
“I am VAL,” said the man. He had a distinctly British accent. “A Virtual Artificial Lifeform. It is my task and possibly my pleasure to assist you during your time in this coma.”
“In this what?” Rogue asked.
“Coma,” said VAL calmly. “If I am not mistaken, you suffered a mild accident not too long ago. The insidious beeping you keep hearing would be the heart monitor.”
“Doesn’t sound like a very mild accident to me,” Rogue said. “What happened?”
“Don’t you remember?” VAL asked. Then he smiled. “No, of course you don’t remember. You are not, after all, Rogue’s memory. Well, it started with Evan making several disparaging remarks about your lifestyle. Your choice of clothes and lipstick in particular.”
“I think I remember,” Rogue said. “I kicked his ass, didn’t I?”
“In unarmed combat, wearing a pair of very heavy boots does have it advantages, yes,” VAL said calmly. “Unfortunately, during the impromptu fight, quite a large amount of dust was kicked up and, frankly, Evan had to sneeze.”
Rogue shook her head. “I don’t think I remember that.”
“I would be surprised if you did. Evan is a random missile launcher when he sneezes. You were hit with two spikes when he did, one in the chest, one in the stomach. Both your large intestine as well as your left lung were pierced. Quite frankly, it’s a miracle you’re still alive.”
“Yeah, guess that explains how I ended up in a coma,” Rogue said. “But I still don’t know where I am.”
“At this point, I don’t think you even know who you are, much less where you are.”
“I know who I am. I’m Rogue.”
VAL smiled. “Yes, but what part of her? Personality, perhaps. Or, if you believe in such things, the soul.”
“Like I said, I’m Rogue. And you, VAL, who are you anyway?”
“Me? I am a construct of your subconscious mind. I suppose I am quite a rarity since I gather only few minds come with something like me.”
“You really like long sentences, don’t you,” Rogue said.
“It helps pass the time,” said VAL. “Walk this way, please.”
VAL wandered off into the dark. Rogue, having nothing better to do, followed. It didn’t take long for a large, blue door to loom up in the distance. There was a red “1” painted on it.
“Do you remember when you touched Cody? When your power first manifested itself?” VAL asked.
“I’ve been trying to forget.”
“You hadn’t been holding him all that long, yet you still absorbed all but a few of his memories. For a while, you were quite convinced that you, in fact, were Cody.”
“I know. Why’re you dredging that up?”
“Not long after, you also absorbed both the powers and memories of Kurt and Storm. Yet, you did not, for even one moment, believe that you were them.”
VAL looked at Rogue. “You never wondered how that happened?”
“I had other things on my mind.”
VAL smiled again. It looked rather strange on him. “Yes. Minds. Rather strange things, are they not? You absorb Cody’s rather mundane memories and you are overwhelmed. Then you absorb the memories of a blue, furry, German, teleporting mutant and you only seem to absorb his power.”
“And his memories,” Rogue said. “Some of ‘em, anyway.”
“And that is where I come in. As I said, I am part of the subconscious and my normal task is to keep these doors locked.”
“What do you mean doors?” Rogue asked.
VAL looked to the side. Rogue followed his gaze and saw a line of doors stretching out into the darkness.
“Behind each of these doors lies a personality and a personal threat to you. Behind door number 1 here is Cody. Behind door number 2 is Kurt, door number 3 is Storm and so on and so forth.”
“Wait, you saying you’re a part of me?”
VAL sighed. “Of Rogue, yes, not of you. You are just as much part of the subconscious as I am, though your influence on the real Rogue is much greater than my own. Put in terms you can understand, you are the personality lurking behind door number 0.”
“Believe me or don’t believe me, it is immaterial to me or, indeed, any of us. I am not here to bicker with you, since it would be a waste of both our times. Although technically, I suppose we have all the time we want.”
“Why are we here then?” Rogue asked. She was getting very tired of VAL.
“Finally, we are getting to the point.” VAL snapped his fingers and the line of doors blurred as they whirred past. Soon enough, Rogue and VAL were standing in front of yet another door. Rogue, however, immediately noticed something strange about it.
“Well done. Very observant of you.”
Rogue let the comment slide. “Why is it pink?”
“I have no idea,” VAL said. “My task is to keep it closed and nothing more. At least, until now.”
VAL produced a key from somewhere, turned to face the pink door, then produced a lock from somewhere and unlocked the door.
“There,” he said. “I suggest you go inside.”
“Why should I?”
“Because I ask politely?”
“I am to prevent the wrong personalities from coming to the surface. Thanks to my efficient handling of your random power absorbing sprees you do not currently suffer from a severe multiple personality disorder. This particular personality, however, does not wish to come to the surface at all. It is… worrying me. Please go inside.”
“Why me, why not you?”
VAL made a show of sighing. “Because you are the closest thing to the real Rogue that this coma-bound subconscious has. Now go inside. Please.”
“Will it get me rid of you?”
“You will not notice my presence, no.”
“Then consider me gone.”
The room was pink. But it was the wrong kind of pink. Pink is supposed to be a happy, bubbly colour. But in the same way that clowns can be scary when viewed in the wrong light, this room was the wrong colour pink.
“Hello?” Rogue asked. “Anybody home?”
She half expected creepy laughter to come echoing through the room. It didn’t come. Nothing came, in fact.
Rogue stepped forward. “I know there’s someone in here. Where are you? Come out, come out, wherever you are.”
Rogue swirled around for a second time. Kitty was sitting on her knees at a very low table, sipping tea. She wasn’t wearing a kimono. Rogue would’ve found it more fitting if she had.
“Hey,” said Rogue.
“VAL sent you here?” Kitty asked.
“How’d you guess?”
“He’s kinda like the custodian around here. He doesn’t understand me.”
“I don’t think he understands anyone,” Rogue said, sitting down.
“Want some tea?”
Kitty shrugged. “OK. Biscuit?”
“No. What are you doing here?”
“Can’t you see? I’m having tea.” Kitty paused for a moment. “Woah, was that like through the looking glass or what?”
“No, I mean…” Rogue paused. “From what VAL tells me all the others are trying to get out and you’re not. Why?”
“I like it here, obviously.”
“Look around. What’s not to like.”
Rogue looked around and saw a some trees in the distance. The sky was a clear blue, birds were twittering and chirping, butterflies were dancing and somewhere there was a white lion who was talking to a white sheep.
“What the…? What happened to the pink?”
“You mean you… What is this place?”
“I dunno, the garden of Eden maybe?” Kitty said. “Want an apple?”
“What? Err… no thanks,” Rogue said.
“This is just too weird.”
“Oh? Why’s that?”
“First I meet this weird butler guy, then there’s this row of doors in the middle nothing, then there’s this eerie pink room and now I’m in freakin’ Paradise. I mean, don’t that sound weird to you?”
“You’re not part of the subconscious, are you?”
“And glad of it.”
“Well, you wanna know why this looks so much like Paradise?”
“Not sure I do really.”
Kitty smiled. “Simple really. It’s cuz I’m with you.”
“This about that crush you have on me?”
“Probably,” Kitty said. “Could also be the crush you have on me.”
“What? No way.”
“Yeah right. Then how come we’re in the Summerland all of the sudden?”
“Look, sorry to break this to you, but I’m straight.”
Kitty looked around quite pointedly. “Nope. Still Paradise. Seems one of us is lying.”
“Yeah, that’s the truth,” Rogue said, standing up.
“When you see VAL, tell him not to worry. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that.”
Rogue walked away. When she had made two steps, she found herself in a pink room. A very empty pink room. Looking behind her, she could still see Kitty sitting at the low table, reading a book.
... beep ...
“So, how did it go?”
“Aw crap, not you again,” Rogue said.
“It’s so good to hear I’m wanted,” VAL said, stepping out of the darkness.
Rogue looked around. There was darkness.
“What happened to the room? Where’s Kitty?”
“In her room, of course.”
... beep ...
“Then where am I?”
“In Rogue’s mind, I suppose.”
“Not a lot around here, is there?”
“I do happen to recall telling you that Rogue is in a coma.”
“So? Did you become any wiser?”
“Yeah. Kitty doesn’t want to take over, cuz she’s way too happy to be with me.”
... beep ...
VAL nodded. “Interesting. Anything else?”
“I’m curious, what was it like inside?”
“Pink, dark and empty,” Rogue answered. “And Paradise.”
VAL frowned. “That does not sound very logical.”
“It was only Paradise when I was with Kitty,” Rogue said. Then added, “I mean… it was only…”
... beep ...
“I am quite sure I know what you mean,” VAL said.
“I am not in love with Kitty, OK? Not even a teenage crush, you hear.”
“Oh, I hear you,” said VAL.
... beep ...
“Unfortunately, I am not one of the driving forces behind Rogue’s personality. You, however, are. And, like it or not, once Rogue wakes up, she will remember Paradise.”
“Yeah, cuz we’re friends.”
... beep ...
“Of course you are. Well now, I believe it is almost time for us to depart.”
“Why do you think that?”
... beep ...
“Surely you hear the heart monitor?”
“So? I was hearing it all the time.”
“Yes. But now is the time to wonder just what you are hearing it with.”
... beep ...
In the beginning there was pain. And lots of it. Rogue opened her eyes, then shut them again as the harsh lights bored into her skull. After a few moments, she tried opening her eyes once more, this time a bit more careful.
The room was white. She was lying in a bed. Lots of machinery were standing next to the bed. Looking down, she noticed that too many tubes had been stuck into her body.
How did she get here again?
Something with… purple lipstick?
Rogue shook her head. There was… something, wasn’t there? Something… important?
Rogue looked up and noticed the chair in the far corner. Kitty was sitting on it, a book on her lap. Her eyes were closed, her mouth was half open and she was drooling onto her shoulder. She was clearly asleep.
Rogue managed a smile and recalled something about a lion and a sheep.
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